The Rochester Knighthawks (1-0) kick-off their season long 3 game road trip this Saturday at the KeyBank Center to face off against the Buffalo Bandits (2-1). This matchup between the Knighthawks and Bandits is one the biggest marquee matchups in the NLL this weekend. Both the Knighthawks and Bandits are coming off impressive wins this past week.
The Knighthawks are coming off their season opening win against the Philadelphia Wings (0-2) by the final score of 13-9 on December 29th. The Knighthawks had strong offensive showings from Cory Vitarelli, Austin Shanks, and Cody Jamieson. New starting Knighthawks goalie Angus Goodleaf had a strong debut with 50 saves. Speaking of goalies, this is also the first time the Knighthawks are facing off against their former goalie Matt Vinc who signed with the Bandits in one of the biggest free agency transactions this past offseason to a 3-year deal.
Vinc spent 8 seasons with the Knighthawks and won 3 consecutive NLL Championships in 2012, 2013, and 2014 with Rochester. Vinc is also a 6x NLL Goaltender of the Year, winning 5 with Rochester (11’,13’,14’, 15’, 18’) while winning one with the Orlando Titans in 2010. Vinc in his last season with the Knighthawks posted a 9-6 record, with a 11.37 GAA, and a .782 save percentage.
The Buffalo Bandits are coming off a bounce back win at home against the Vancouver Warriors on December 28th. After a disappointing 17-12 loss to the Toronto Rock the week prior the Bandits beat the Warriors 16-10. Buffalo had a strong offensive showing from former defensive player, Thomas Hoggarth. Hoggarth who switched to offense this season had 6 points against the Warriors by scoring 2 goals and also dishing out 4 assists. Shawn Evans and Josh Byrne also had strong offensive performances to help Buffalo get their first home win of the season.
Another interesting note for this game is that next season the Knighthawks players and front office will be moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia to form a new unnamed NLL expansion team for the 2019-2020 season. Rochester will receive a new expansion team next year and the new owners will be Terry & Kim Pegula who also own the Buffalo Bandits. The Pegula’s also bought out the Knighthawks history and property so for next season expect the new expansion team in Rochester to still be named the Knighthawks. While the Pegula’s also own all the major sports in Buffalo they also own the Rochester Americans who are a minor league affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. So the Pegula’s are very familiar with the All-Greater Rochester Area.
This game should be very entertaining to watch with all the talent and storylines on each side. The Bandits are a very young and fast team with a lot to prove this season. While the Knighthawks have both youth and experience on their team with some NLL experts calling them one of the most complete teams in the league this year. Knighthawks veteran leaders Cory Vitarelli (3G, 1A) and Cody Jamieson (3G, 3A) look to keep their strong starts going against the Bandits.
Faceoff at KeyBank Center in Buffalo is set for 7:30 p.m.(ET) this Saturday, January 5th.